PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Union head Michael Weiner says the players' association is not worried about the lawsuit filed against New York Mets owners and its impact on the club's financial stability.
Trustee Irving H. Picard, trying to recover money for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, sued the Wilpon family that owns the Mets and related entities in December seeking at least $300 million in fictitious profits. The Mets owners say they are victims.
During a visit to Mets camp Tuesday, Weiner said the only concern for the union is to "make sure contractual obligations to the players are honored."
"We have been assured through the commissioner's office that's the case, so there's no concern there," Weiner said. "As far as the broader questions, it's in the interests of everybody associated with baseball that the National League franchise in New York be a strong franchise, and the Wilpons have always attempted to field a competitive team. They've had success doing that during their tenure, and we certainly hope they are in a position to continue to do that.
"But the real key is less what the payroll of the Mets is, (it) is that a team like the New York Mets, the National League entrant from New York, should be in a position to be a strong franchise."
When asked about possible financial constraints preventing a big-market team from being active in free agency, Weiner said the union understands not all 30 clubs will be competing for players every year.
"Whether it's the Mets, whether it's the Dodgers, whether it's, frankly, the Twins, Tigers, any team, if there's something that's going to prevent them from participating as they normally would in whatever cycle that would be in bidding for players, that's a concern," Weiner said. "At this point, we've been assured through the commissioner's office, the Mets are going to be able to operate as they have in the past."
Weiner also addressed the possibility the Mets could try to prevent closer Francisco Rodriguez from achieving the conditions that would guarantee his $17.5 million option for 2012. It would become guaranteed if he finishes 55 games this year, or 100 over the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and is not on the disabled list during the final 30 days of the season. If the option doesn't become guaranteed, the pitcher would receive a $3.5 million buyout and become eligible for free agency.
"We monitor every situation for compliance with the Basic Agreement, but I have every expectation the Mets will honor both the Basic Agreement and Frankie's contract," Weiner said.